Richie Partington's Reviews > Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard

Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns
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Mar 16, 2012

it was amazing

Richie’s Picks: CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: BE A PART OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY FROM YOUR OWN BACKYARD by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz, photographer, Henry Holt, February 2012, 80p., ISBN: 978-0-8050-9517-3

“It’s poetry in motion, and when she turned her eyes to me
As deep as any ocean, as sweet as any harmony
She blinded me with science (‘She blinded me with science!’)
And failed me in geometry.”
-- Thomas Dolby

“Scientists are still studying these and many more questions about monarch migration. Dr. Orley ‘Chip’ Taylor, a professor at the University of Kansas, is confident that tagging more monarchs will reveal important answers. When Fred and Norah Urquhart retired, Chip founded Monarch Watch to continue their tagging program. The organization is dedicated to understanding and preserving the monarch through tagging and educational programs.
“’If you are interested in conserving a particular organism, you have to understand it,’ says Chip. ‘You really have to understand every little bit of its biology.’”

CITIZEN SCIENTISTS is a seriously hands-on guide to becoming part of various national and international collaborative efforts to understand creatures that you might well find alighting in your own backyard. By time we meet Chip Taylor in the book, we’ve already learned how to carefully capture a butterfly, ascertain that it is, indeed, a monarch, determine whether it is a boy or a girl monarch, stick a numbered identification tag to his or her wing, and then let it return to its butterfly duties.

In addition to butterflies, CITIZEN SCIENTISTS explores how we can make our backyards an inviting place for birds and become involved in the century-old annual bird census. It explains how we can learn all sorts of frog calls and then go out at night and use our ears to participate in scientific amphibian monitoring activities. And it details how we can become ladybug spotters and take part in the work of identifying various species of ladybugs which we know – or those of us who are Eric Carle fans know – eat lots of aphids and, thus, help farmers.

“’With information that kids have supplied,’ John says, ‘we are starting to get a really good handle on where our rare ladybugs are.’”

For each of these four creatures, CITIZEN SCIENTISTS also provides a basic body parts identification guide and a list of recommended supplies to gather in preparation for going out into the field (or into a field).

I like how a lot of basic information is packed into this nice short, photo-packed, hands-on guide. There are plenty of additional resources cited in the back matter, but the main focus here is on providing an introduction that will get kids (and their parents and teachers) interested in nature and enthused about becoming members of the scientific community.

Richie Partington, MLIS
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